Skip to main content

Full text of "Renaissance [2013]"

See other formats




Digitized by 

the Internet 


in 2013 

The Writers' and Artists' Magazine 

Wayne Community College 
Goldsboro, North Carolina 
Volume 29, April 2013 

This twenty-ninth volume 
is dedicated to 

for her dedication to the arts 
and her many years of teaching excellence 
she will be missed. 

Cover Heather Williams 

Art Connor Hardy 

& Miranda'rae Carter 

Prose David Sager 

Poetry Candice Lancaster 

JefF Williams Ashley Merrill Crystal Burnett 

Dean Tuck, Associate Editor 
Rosalyn Lomax, Editor Emerita Marian Westbrook, Editor Emerita 

Kathryn Spicer, Editor Emerita 


Theresa White-Wallace 
Jacqueline Kannan 


Danny Rollins 

Educational Support Technologies Department 

Majena Howell, Ken Jones, and Ron Lane 

Student Government Association 

The Artists and Writers 

No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission. 

Copyright 20 1 3 Renaissance 
Views expressed are those of the individual contributors and do not 
necessarily reflect the views of the editors of this institution. 

Parts 1 *Canclice Marie Lancaster, AA, ^ 

Gilbert-Chapel Poetry Award Winner 

Here I Am Again 1 *Candace Marie Lancaster, AA ^ 

The Spider in the Shower 2 *Shari Berk, 

Gilbert-Chapel Poetry Award Winner 

Esteemed Speaker on a Rainy Night 2 Shari Berk 

Peace at War 3 Donald Wallace, AE 

Interstate KLW41 4 Kristy Ware, AAS 

Lawn Mower Wheels Through Time 4 Tom Jordan, CE 

Red Archer 5 C.J. Underwood, AA 

Peek-a-Boo 6 Courtney Howell, AA 

Fear 7 Travion Lewis, AA 

Trees at Sunset 7 Brittany WiHis, AA 

The Chronicles of a Midget Tamer 8 Heather Williams, AA 

Kobi on a Rainy Night 9 *Shari Berk 

Seeking Shelter in the Old Barn 9 Margaret Helms, Faculty 

All the Pretty Horses 10 Jeff Williams, Faculty 

Poppy 10 Sadie Goulet,AA 

A Flash of White Dives Into the Woods 11 *Candace Marie Lancaster, AA 

Paddling on the Neuse River, NC 11 Jacqueline Kannan, Staff 

Not the Face of E.D 12 *Shari Berk 

Winter Swamp 12 Karen Hartley, Staff 

Sunset at Pond 13 Karen Hartley, Staff 

After September 13 Kristy Ware, AAS 

Summer Swamp 13 Karen Hartley, Staff 

Four Ways of Looking at Leaves 14 *Candace Marie Lancaster, AA l$t 

Sunset at Swansboro 14 Don Magoon, Staff 

Big Fish Out of Water 15 Heather Williams, A A 

When Prince Charming Flees 16 Adore Clark, A A 

Squirrel at Duck, NC 16 Karen Hartley, Staff 

Winter Pond on Buckleberry Road 17 Karen Hartley, Staff 

Once Loved 17 Travion Lewis, AA 

Looking at Stars 18 Adore Clark, A A 

Bird 18 Sadie Goulet, AA 

Mellissa's Song 19 Kristy Ware, AAS 

Admire the Beautiful 19 Summer Woodard, AA 

Church is No Sanctuary 20 David Sager, AA 5$ 

The Lady 22 Anika Rawlinson, AA 

Happy 22 Heather Aycock, AA 

Pilot and Son 23 Amy Graham, Faculty 

Journey to the Past 23 Heather Williams, AA 


Warren Hardy Farms 23 Connor Hardy, AAS ^ 

Resting Crab 23 Miranda'rae Carter, AAS ^ 

Monarch Caterpillar 23 Connor Hardy, AAS 3$! 

Kure Beach Pelican 24 Brittany WiUis, AA 

Support System 24 Kasey Phillips, AAS 

Spring Flower 24 Sergio Aguilar, AAS 

A Peony from my Garden 24 Margaret Helms, Faculty 

Mushrooms Growing 24 Connor Hardy, AAS ^ 

Kure Beach 24 Brittany Willis, A A 

Bug in My Garden 25 Tom Jordan, CE 

A Hydrangea 25 Summer Woodard, AA 

Sunset Flower 25 Summer Woodard, A A 

Sunset Photo from Topsail 25 Miranda'rae Carter, AAS 

Sight of the Sound 25 Heather Williams, AA 

Porch in Burnsville, NC 26 Karen Hartley, Staff 

A Clownfish from the NC Aquarium 26 Summer Woodard, A A 

Christmas Water Tower 26 Sherry Cranberry, Faculty 

Flower in Hand 26 Kasey Phillips, AAS 

Me, Myself, & Id 26 Sadie Goulet, AA 

And Now Who Will You Love? 27 Kenesha Gray, AAS 

His eyes were human pink 29 Jeff Williams, Faculty 

An Elephant from the NC Zoo 29 Summer Woodard, AA 

Garbage Hero 30 Adore Clark, AA 

This Is Our Spot 32 Byron Barwick, AAS 

Two Barns 33 Sherry Cranberry, Faculty 

Masquerade Passion 34 Anika RawHnson, AA 

Revelation of Tears 34 Heather Aycock, AA 

The Wash 34 *Shari Burk 

Circle 34 Sadie Goulet, AA 

False Hope 35 Travion Lewis, AA 

Cause, Effect, and Consequences 36 Susan Bunkley, AA 

Frozen Water Fountain 37 Connor Hardy, AAS 1$[ 

Heritage 38 Kristy Ware, AAS 

Cupola 38 Candace Jones, AA 

Whitney 39 Nicole Denise,AA 

GOLDSBORO Sweet GOLDSBORO 39 Nicole Denise, AA 

Life's Unexpected Changes 40 Tina Sharpe, AAS 

A Tribute to Last Year's Contributors 42 Renaissance Editors 

From Civilian to Marine Recruit 43 David Sager, AA 3$ 

US Flag over Confederate Fortress 44 Tom Jordan, CE 

Sun Bear 45 Nicole Denise, AA 

Grandmom and Son 45 Nicole Denise, AA 

Pyre 46 Ashley Merrill, Faculty 

Cloud Over Wayne County 47 Karen Hartley, Staff 

Mama, I Lied , 48 Sierra Kornegay, AAS 

Capture the Moment 48 Summer Woodard, A A 

Rise of the Shenobie Wolf Clan (excerpt) 49 Adam Payne, AA 

Kitten from Beach 52 Miranda'rae Carter, AAS ^ 

^ Award Winner * Member of Margaret Baddour 's Creative Writing Class 


I am the Emerald City 
sprawling over the skyline, 
a relentless beacon of light 
glittering into the atmosphere. 

I am an airplane 
splitting the sky in two. 
Boundaries mean nothing before me 
as I command the aerospace. 

I am the bass line 

pulsing beneath your melody 

rattling your heart 

inside your chest. 

I am an ocean wave 
relentlessly pounding the shore 
shaping the coastline 
into an asymmetrical heaven. 

Candice Marie Lancaster 

Here I Am Again 

The dull, checkered floor 
stretches out for a hundred miles 
distorted over hills and valleys. 
Foggy grey glass boxes me in. 

I scream without sound until it shatters 
Raindrops the color of sewage 
fall around me in torrents. 
Paper cranes squawk and screech 
as the colorless sky presses in. 

A machine spits and spews 
and gives chase. 
My feet chadned together 
can't move as fast as my heart. 

An earsplitting hum vibrates my mind 
my thoughts shaken, not stirred. 
The machine is on my heels 
gnashing and gnarling 
but then it's time to clock out. 

^ Candice Marie Lancaster 

— after G. Apollinaire 
Wet windy rain hampers turn out 

lecture hall gathers familiar faces 

they wave, hug, chat smiling at strangers 

friendly ambience filled with hats, umbrellas 

The lecture begins. 

Shari Berk 

h Slower (61) l^-fe '^A'^yJI C^ore^) 

A spider crawled into my bath 
1 smirked at it — "You do the math, 
mortgage unpaid by you not 1, 
but 1 am larger, so you must die." 

Only one of us prevails 

to tell the morning shower tale — 

Grand-daddy longlegs flushed down the toilet bowl 

tissue-crushed, flattened, no longer whole. 

Shari Berk 


Peace At War 

Donald Wallace 

Q Ji AT ost war stories you hear 
r y 1/ i start off with something Hke 
"Charlie was everywhere..." 
or "Back in 'Nam..." or my personal favorite, 
"It was me against 100..." They also usually 
end with some heroic statement like, "And that 
is how I saved the town of Al Bashier!" or "And 
that is how I lost my favorite right leg!" This 
story, though, is different. In this story no one 
saves the world, or even a small town, and no 
one definitely loses a leg. That story comes later. 
No, this story is quite the opposite. 

My first tour in Iraq was nothing like my 
second tour, or my subsequent tour in Afghani- 
stan. It was exacdy like everyone tells it: hot, 
dry, and not pleasant. We had to eat MREs 
and had no real showers and blah, blah, blah. I 
won't bore you with the details. I will tell you 
that every now and then, a young specialist like 
myself at the time would be assigned the equally 
monotonous task of "Base Defense and Obser- 
vation," which was a fancy word for guard duty. 
Normally, this was not something you wanted 
because of the schedule. The roster said that 
the shifts were eight hours on and eight hours 
off, but what you don't know is that that eight 
hours on was on tower and the eight hours off 
was sleep, muster, inspection, travel to and from 
towers, and additional instructions and report- 
ing. Really, it was eight on and four off. 

Most of the time I was placed on the in- 
famous "Tower 4," which looked out over a 
bombed out field that had not seen life since the 
first Gulf War. That being said, the emptiness 
made for some spectacular sunrises over the city 
of Al Taji. That is something I will miss very 

Every morning, just as the sun was coming 
up, I would stand in my tower and hear the lo- 
cal Mosque playing the call to prayer over the 
loud speakers. The melodious half-sung, half- 
yelled call in Arabic really made feel like, for a 

second, I was not in a war torn country. The 
call usually lasted for 10 minutes, and then the 
person, whom I can only assume was the leader, 
said an actual prayer, and it was over. 

Standing there, listening to what I could 
only understand as music and looking at some 
of the most vibrant and truly breathtaking sun- 
rises I have ever seen, made me feel as if it were 
all somehow scripted. I felt like I was in a mov- 
ie and the production director did an amazing 
job. I wish I was a better writer or had better 
words to truly convey to you just what a sur- 
real and peaceful time those moments were. I 
wish I could go back and experience that feel- 
ing again, not worrying about the things that 
we take for granted today here in the United 
States. Don't get me wrong, I love this coun- 
try, but sometimes I feel sorry because a lot of 
people here are missing out. Some sad people 
let truly unimportant things stress them in such 
a way that they need to be medicated. You often 
hear about the simplicity of war. It truly is. Yes, 
the actual fighting can be chaotic and extremely 
fast paced, but you are not always fighting. In 
war, you don't have to worry about bills getting 
paid, babysitters for work, and making sure 
your wife has her shoe of the week. You worry 
about simple things like who is going to try to 
kill your comrade today and what mission you 
are going to execute. Though it is not a con- 
stant or even truly frightening worry, it is, in all 
honesdy, a simple one, and in that simplicity we 
start to look at the world around us and truly 
stop and "smell the roses." We can take some- 
thing as simple as a morning call to prayer, and 
look at it for what it tnily is, and take unimagi- 
nable comfort in it. If you ask a solider what his 
scariest moment was, you will get a story about 
a moment in war, but ask him what his most 
cherished or profound moment was, and it will 
be the moment after his scariest. And that, chil- 
dren, is what war truly is. ♦♦♦ 

Interstate KLW41 

I am afraid, but not alone as I travel down the road of my existence. 
My pothole filled, cracked, uneven one-way street. 

As 1 go down, I pass by side streets that I have traveled down many a time. 

I pass by What Happened Way and 1 see Loser Lane. 

There goes Bad Choice Boulevard — I've been down there a lot. 

Heartbreak Hotel is there, and I have spent some time there more than once. 

Bad Choice has had other buildings added to it over time. 

Money is funny & Credit won't get it. Lending Institution has opened up. 

I see the Bad Hair Day Salon is still in business. 

Of course the Take Out Cafe is up and running. 

But my destination on this road is a new one. 

I'm searching for Opportunity Drive. 

It's not a big street, and if I am not careful, I could miss it. 

It's around here somewhere; I've seen it before. 

I just didn't go down it like I was supposed to. 

I hope it's not too late to go down it now. 

But knowing my luck — it will be under construction when 1 get there. 



I've thought long and hard about why things happen the way they have 

and I still have found no answer. 

For a while now my mind has been imprisoned, 

no longer able to function as it should, 

fear clings to it like a heavy blanket of fog in the morning. 

My decisions have become unclear, my thoughts not my own. 

Fear of me someda\ 

through a pain much 

than what I have faced. 

Fear that I will never recover from this deep hurt 
and forgive the one that inflicted me with it. 
Fear that the load I bear upon myself will snap my will 
driving me to do something that I know I will regret. 
Fear of enormous rage that refuses to leave me 
clouding my dreams with dark deeds. 

Fear turned me into something I'm not, blackened my heart, 

and covered it with a solid wall . 

Fear has settled in my soul. 

Here I sit where nothing can get to me. . . 

Nothing can touch me. . . 

Nothing can hurt me. . . 

Travion Lewis 

Trees at Sunset 

Brittany Will 

Hie Chronicles 


/f I ever elect to pen an autobiogra- 
phy, this title may adorn its cover. 
As a domestic engineer, I have answered 
the call of the universe to tame the midg- 
ets with whom I dwell. This task is not 
for the meek! Little boys smell like mush- 
rooms, regardless of your efforts to coun- 
ter their essence with proper hygiene and 
Listerine. Their behavior is redolent of 
The Lord of the Flies, and I grow weary of 
the perpetual Nerf warfare that pervades 
my home. My husband and I refuse to 
negotiate with terrorists and insist that, 
as with most adversaries, victory can only 
be achieved by way of wits. 

I propose that prospective parents 
should complete a certification program 
prior to conception. To drive a car, fly a 
plane, captain a vessel, practice law or 
medicine, clean teeth, draw blood, teach, 
operate a business, and countless other 
endeavors, you must first complete a cer- 
tification process and be issued a license. 
However, to become a mother or father, 
you need only... Of course, once "x" 
concludes, the impending experience is 
a trial in human behavior and survival — 
yours and theirs. 

I feel that I would have benefited 
greatly from a certification process or, at 
the very least, a brochure. This is not the 
way that my journey has gone, but some- 
thing has kept me from failing miserably 
en route. As a "stay-at-home-mom" for 
the last few years, I have relied on criti- 

of a Midget Tamer 

T Williams 

cal thinking skills to maintain my san- 
ity home. I have mastered the part of 
the mender, tender, nurse, cook, baker, 
photographer, housekeeper, bookkeep- 
er, laundry maid, dishwasher, chauffer, 
chaperone, tutor, cheerleader, story-teller, 
stealthy imposter (e.g. Tooth Fairy, Santa 
Claus, Easter Bunny, etc.), event coordi- 
nator, dictator, diplomat, judge, jury, ref- 
eree, warden, and yes, midget tamer. 

This litany of roles is abridged only to 
comply with the maximum word-count 
for this essay, but I digress. Having a hus- 
band who serves in the active-duty Air 
Force presents a unique financial situa- 
tion that I like to refer to as "The Pit- 
tance." Yet, somehow, I have managed to 
discern needs from wants for well over a 
decade, and we are neither starving nor 
bankrupt. The home that we own is one 
Hollywood film crew away from being 
a remake of The Money Pit. This too 
has required that I summon the critical 
thinking skills of an accounting samurai 
to keep us consistently domiciled. 

To track our spending and manage 
debt, I have meticulously utilized color- 
ful Excel spreadsheets and maintain that 
I could chair the House Budget Commit- 
tee with ease. Under my stern command, 
cable, landline phone service, trash pick- 
up, gym memberships, and name brands 
would be eliminated for all Americans! 
On the other hand, maybe I should just 
focus on the black and red of my own 
budget a while longer. ♦♦♦ 


1 on a Rainy NigU 

Smell of wet dog soothes my ache 
Missing dear friends afar — 
Kobi's rain soaked fur takes me away 
when I don't know where they are. 

I run my fingers through her scruff 
scratch her ears — hug real tight 
Loneliness made of lesser stuff, 
she gets me through the rainy night. 

Shari Berk 


. . .terrified of fire, 

running from a burning barn, 

streaks of flaming wood like rain, 

an Appaloosa writhing, 

only fear in his eyes, 

painted stallions jumping 

onto the safest ground. 

We throw them to the lions, 
against their very nature, 

. . .frightened of war, 

climbing hills from a flood, 

hurricane pouring wrath onto the field, 

they whinny and neigh 

calling fury and flight, 

mares pushing foals 

onto the highest ground. 

throw them against Jire and steel. 
Who understands the courage, 

. . .startled by gunfire, 
charging towards a caisson, 
bullets falling as stones from hell, 
men living and dying 
by the courage of steeds, 
horses driven steadily 
onto the killing ground. 

who sees the mysteries 

in a galloping horse's eyes? 


Poppy Sadie Goulet 


A nasli of Wliite Dives into tlie Woods 

I follow it through the brush. 

The smell of earth and sleeping things 

fills my lungs with an air of retired summer. 

The browns and reds and oranges 

make it easy to follow the girl, 

whose hair is the color of raw silk, 

as she dances over sunken logs. 

Fallen leaves rustle like paper beneath my feet. 
Tangled twigs catch my clothes and hair. 
Ahead of me, she laughs with ease 
comfortable in the unbroken forest air. 
The dying world behind us grows quiet 
as the symphony of nature 
rises towards crescendo. 

She pauses in the clearing, untouched by fall. 
Plush green grass blankets the ground 
and cardinals leap in trees heavy with dogwood. 
Fragrant wildflowers dance in the breeze. 
She turns to me grey eyes filled with grief. 
"How could you have forgotten me?" 

3^ Candice Marie Lancaster 

Paddling on the Neuse River, NC Jacqueline Kannan 

Lapsed poetry I fail to rhyme 
methods of my predecessors, 
concrete images possess time 
in latinate word precursors. 

Leave obvious behind, I'm told, 
emotions evocate from themselves, 
my heart betrays secrets I hold, 
would fill up histrionic shelves. 

Surrendering to who I am, 
mediocrity I create. 
Attempting other forms a sham, 
I fail, can barely imitate. 

Shari Berk 

We — the human race 
Are as a rainbow 
Separate and together 
As the bands of color flowing 
Equal and different 
As the brightness of each hue 
Permanent and flexible 
As the shape and flow of the arc 
Beautiful and unique 
As the sight of one across the sky. 
It is rare to see either one come together 
But when it happens 
It is a breathtaking sight 
Both shine more brightly after a storm 
Both are a gift from God 
Karen Hartley May God bless us all. 


S wamp, Wayne / Johnston County Line Karen Hartley 

Four W^ays of Looking at Leaves 

—After Wallace Stevens 

Caressed by the v^^ind 

leaves applaud you at your worst. 

They are your biggest fans. 

Splayed out to catch the rays 
fingers reaching towards the sky 
devout before the sun 

changed by cold and scab 
the leaves curl up to die 
a mosaic of the season. 

They bargain with the tree 
trading sap for sun 
and life. 

^ Candice Marie Lancaster 

Sunset at Swansboro 01-12-13 Don Magoon 


Big Fish Out of Water 

Heather Williams 

/— T| jT y mother spent her en- 
r yX/l ^^"^^ ^^^^ Miami, Florida 
«^ ' where she developed an af- 
finity for the beach. As young children liv- 
ing in Miami, we grew up appreciating and 
enjoying it as much as she did. My younger 
sister, brother, and I would spend hours play- 
ing in the sand and the shallow waves. How- 
ever, with each visit, one constant became 
obvious: we were never allowed to swim. I 
would beg her to allow me to go in deeper 
water, reassuring her confidently that I could 
swim, but I could never convince her. 
On the car ride home fi:om school one day, 
I was thrilled to hear that she had enrolled 
me in swimming lessons! I began in the out- 
door pool soon aft:er and quickly progressed 
through the different skill levels. My godfa- 
ther joked that I was like a "big fish out of 
water" because I would swim every chance 
I could. However, during the summer after 
I turned eight, I had my first taste of water- 
related fear. Normally, I would float past the 
first breaking waves and maintain my posi- 
tion there, a safe distance from the shore. I 
suppose arrogance had caused me to ignore 
that position, and I floated carelessly further 
and further from the shore. 
To this day, I am not sure if I had fallen 
asleep or just lost track of time. Something 
inside me clicked, and I sat up quickly and 
looked around. My heart began to beat rap- 
idly as I realized I was dangerously far from 
the shore. Looking back, I could see my 
mother as a tiny figure waving madly in my 
direction. Panic consumed me, and I was 
overwhelmed by the gravity of my situation. 
I had never covered the vast distance before 
me in any swimming setting. I slid into the 
water and began to tow my raft behind me. 
Kicking and stroking with every breath, my 

imagination ran wild, and I became terrified 
of being attacked by a shark. 
I can still remember the impact from the 
first breaking wave as I approached the 
shore. The connection to my inflatable raft 
was severed instantly. Tossed like a rag doll 
from one violent wave to the next, 1 had no 
idea which way was up. The salt water was 
burning my nose and throat as I tried in vain 
to hold my breath. Finally, I felt gritty sand 
strip the skin from my hands and knees, and 
I could hear my mother screaming my name 
repeatedly. She must have been crying for a 
while because I remember her shaking while 
she held me. I struggled to look around and 
gain my bearings because the salt was sting- 
ing my eyes and I was coughing uncontrol- 
lably. I realized that I had drifted nearly out 
of sight from our spot on the shore. 
We both cried and I asked my mother why 
she didn't yell for me or come get me. She 
replied that she had never learned how to 
swim and she stood there paralyzed with 
fear, knowing there was nothing she could 
do to help me. A little while later, on the 
drive home, she told me about my four-year- 
old cousin that I had never known. He had 
drowned in a hotel swimming pool, and it 
was a terrible tragedy that my mother's fam- 
ily had never really recovered from. She said 
she understood some of what my Aunt Bar- 
bara must have experienced when she made 
it to the pool and pulled her lifeless baby 
from the depths below the water slide. 
My mother's fear of the water, coupled with 
the heartbreaking passing of her nephew, 
had motivated her to empower her own 
children with the vital skill of swimming. I 
never knew my cousin, but I chose to honor 
his memory and follow my mother's exam- 
ple with my own boys. 


Wlien Prince Ckantiing Flees 

The witch has won. Prince Charming fled 

And left me here to perish 

So though I've waited far too long 

My freedom I'll not relish 

That stupid prince, that filthy coward 

How could he run away? 

I'm the princess. He's the prince 

He's supposed to save my day 

But in his boots, he started shaking 

When he saw the dragon 

So he turned around and ran right back 

And hopped into his wagon 

So the sword he left upon the ground 

I grabbed with my free hand 

I decided then I would not die 

Until I made my stand 

The dragon knew what I thought 

And he laughed right in my face 
"Now look here, my dear," he said 
"Your prince has fled this place." 
I just smirked and took my sword 
And plunged it through his chest. 
He looked shocked, then looked at 
And you can guess the rest 
I smiled then, till I saw the prince 
He was riding with Snow White 
And I knew then that growing up 
Those fairytales weren't right 
My step-mother was always right 
Just how much 

He'd be willing to put up a fight 
Adore Clark 

Winter Pond on Buckleberry Road, Princeton, NC Karen Hartley 

Once Loved 

The broken heart that took so long to heal. 

Now mostly numbed to the pain he will forever feel. 

Traces the scars that line his back. 

Where the one once called love laid knives to rest. 
Recalls the memories of happiness and joy long past. 

To only have them taken over by the pain and anguish that followed. 
Out of hate and anger came the tears. 

To ashes and dust now the happiness contained in future years. 
Now looking forward with eyes reddened with pain. 
Denied what he once had and now may never again gain. 
Travion Lewis 


I lay in bed looking up at stars, 
Just giant balls of gas 
No more magical or mysterious 
Than a sleight-of-hand trick 
By a street corner magician. 
Still, somehow, 

Galaxies that stretch farther than 
The distance between me and him 
Can calm a restless soul 
Longing only for the stillness 
Of a starry night. 
Leaving me only to wonder 
Where has my ceiling gone? 

Adore Clark 

Twirling in the sunlight 

On a perfect day her arms outstretched 

To receive his love 

Warmth fills her soul as she glides 

On a beam of happiness and hope 

She laughs out loud at the silliness 

Of her sight to all around who will 

Witness her bUss 

She has found joy in the peace of 

Her existence and her very essence 

Sings out in a chorus to the tops of the 

Clouds circling above her head like 

Soft swirls of cotton candy 

With patience and humility that one gets 

Through the loss of self-worth and 


She says — This is good 

Her soul is at rest in the knowledge 

Of who she is and what her life is really 


And she smiles 
Twirling in the sunlight 


Admire the Beautiful 


Summer Woodard 

Church is No Sanctuary 

3$t David Sager 

here are three types of people on the trees. Some hid among the parked cars. 

r planet Earth: those who believe 
in the paranormal, those who do 

not, and those who believe because of expe- 
rience. I fall into this third group. While 
what causes the phenomenon remains a 
matter of debate, I do know that "ghosts" 
exist, and this is my story. 

When I was ten years old, my family 
attended a newly started church in a previ- 
ously empty church building on a dead end 
road out in the country. The church prop- 
erty was bordered on two sides by woods 
and on the right side by a brick house with 
a wrap-around driveway. The house and 
church properties were divided by a small 
ditch, small enough for children to easily 
hop across, and the ditch was bordered on 
the church side by dogwoods. Larger trees 
ran along the road in front of the church 
and the house. A security light stood at the 
street in front of the church, and another 
one stood at the end of the driveway of the 
neighboring house on the side closet to the 
church. The lights were bright at night, but 
the ample trees cut the light and made the 
parking lot and surrounding area very dark. 

When the church services were conclud- 
ed, it was common for the children to rush 
outside and begin various games to social- 
ize and pass the time while parents talked 
inside. The choice of game often depended 
on the number of participants and the time 
of day. After the midweek evening service, 
it was always dark, regardless of the time of 
year, so hide and seek was a favorite choice. 
One summer night, the attendance of other 
children was low, but that did not deter the 
handftil of us, my brother included, from 
playing hide and seek. A car was selected 
as base, the seeker was chosen, and off we 
scampered to hide. A couple of children 
dashed behind the church into the total 
darkness of the lot between the building and 

My brother and I had a different strategy; 
we ran to the dogwoods bordering the little 
ditch. Then, we each selected a tree and at- 
tempted to disappear into the shadows be- 
neath by merging with the tree-trunks. 

I was on the side of the tree opposite the 
church and had a clear view over into the 
yard across the ditch. My ears were tuned to 
the loud counting of the seeker, listening for 
when he would begin his search and where 
he would go. I was counting on his initial 
pursuit of those behind the church, so I could 
immediately dash from my relatively close 
hiding spot to the safety of base. When the 
seeker finished counting, though, he did not 
immediately go where I had hoped but be- 
gan to make slow rounds of the parking lot, 
staying close to base, probably expecting that 
those hiding in the back would eventually try 
and make a dash for base, giving themselves 
away. It was while I was waiting for him to 
roam farther away that I saw the ghost. 

A couple of years earlier, my father's 
step-father had died. Since we lived in east- 
ern North Carolina, and the step-grand- 
father lived in Memphis, Tennessee, I had 
only seen him twice in my young life that I 
could remember, and one of those times was 
at the funeral. He was a tall man, balding, 
with wisps of white hair, a drooping white 
mustache, and thick black spectacles. As a 
boy, he had injured himself delivering large 
blocks of ice for customers, and so he limped 
about with the aid of a cane. As an adult, he 
worked for the city of Memphis although I 
am not sure of his specific function. When 
he died, the family all converged on Mem- 
phis to pay respects. The flmeral was a sim- 
ple affair, and meeting all these relatives I 
had never seen before (nor have seen since) 
made a greater impression on me than any- 
thing else. I remembered these few things 
about this man who raised my father. I re- 
count all of this to help show the peculiarity 


of my ghostly experience. 

As I stood pressed against the grainy 
smooth bark of the dogwood, gazing into 
the neighboring yard, hstening to the cica- 
das and crickets, movement at the back of 
the house caught my attention. The blue 
security light filtering through the leaves 
of the various trees along the neighboring 
driveway seemed to coalesce before my very 
eyes into the shadowy form of my dad's 
step-granddad, complete with droopy mus- 
tache and spectacles. Upon seeing this, it 
was like time froze for me, and the sounds 
of the night suddenly stilled. The phantom 
floated a few feet ofl^ the ground, made its 
way along the driveway from around the 
back of the house, and headed towards the 
street. At first I wondered if it was headed 
towards me, and then I saw it was merely 
following the path of the driveway. Then 
I wondered if anyone else could see this. 
Where were the other hidden children? Did 
the seeker see it? Staying still and quiet, I 
watched to see what would happen, while 
refijsing to give away my hiding spot in the 
middle of the game. If no one else did see 
the spirit and I interrupted the game on ac- 
count of it, I was sure the ridicule would 
not end for many weeks. The ghost contin- 
ued its path down the driveway, still more 
shadow than consistent form. Eventually, it 
reached a point where all shadow dissolved 
into the unobstructed light from the bluish 
security lamp, and as it was made of shadow, 
the spirit also dissolved. I'm sure this entire 
event only lasted a matter of seconds, but to 
me it seemed like a lifetime. Right about 
then, I heard the seeker run off to chase an- 
other hider, and I quickly made my way to 
base, as did some other players. 

As we stood there waiting for the game 
to conclude, I was lost in reflection. While 
the other children had just had another 
night like so many before, my life had been 
changed in the matter of moments. I no- 
ticed my brother was being quieter than 
normal, but I wasn't about to ask him if he 

had seen anything, not while everyone else 
was around. My mind continued to replay 
the events. Why would the ghost of some- 
one I had only seen once while living, bur- 
ied years earlier and nearly a thousand miles 
away, appear in the driveway of a house next 
to a church out in the middle of the country, 
and do no more than make a brief appear- 
ance? No words uttered, no eyes focused, 
just a quick trip from the darkness of the 
back of the house into the light near the 
street. Was it an accident? Was it an unspo- 
ken message? Was it imagination? 

When our parents were ready to go, my 
younger brother and I piled into the family 
car, and we left for home. Once my par- 
ents were lost in their own conversation, I 
broached the subject with my brother. "Did 
you see anything, uh, unusual out there to- 
night?" He looked at me almost defensively. 
"Maybe. Why? What did you see?" was his 
response. I think neither of us wanted to risk 
being the subject of mockery, so we treaded 
ever so carefully into the subject. After more 
probing questions, it became mutually obvi- 
ous that we had both seen the same thing. 
This revelation removed personal concerns 
about an over-active imagination, or going 
crazy, but created many more. 

To this day, my brother and I both refer 
to that experience when the subject of ghosts 
comes up, and more often than not it is met 
with doubt and mockery unless someone 
else involved in the discussion has had his 
or her own experience. I don't blame the 
doubters. I didn't believe in ghosts either 
until seeing one for myself We have never 
found any answers to our personal questions 
about the occurrence. Why? Why then? 
Why there? Why us? Why haven't we had 
any similar experiences since? I am glad that 
there have been no repeat performances in 
my life, either by ghosts or by other super- 
natural phenomena, but I wish I knew more. 
Maybe one day I will know, possibly when 
I visit my own grandchildren years after my 
death. ♦♦♦ 

who is that mysterious woman? 
She provokes wonder. 

She stands out in the world where she is not understood. 

Who is that interesting woman? 
She wears femininity to its finest. 
She indulges herself in education. 
She has genuine manners. 

Who is that beautiful woman? 
Her smile is hypnotizing 
Her modesty causes silent attraction. 
Her essence is purity. 

Who is that stylish woman? 
Her eyelids are rainbows. 
Her lips are colored red. 
Her frocks are classic. 
Her shoes are skyscrapers. 

Who is that lovely woman? 

She is gentle. 

She is classy. 

She is astonishing. 

Anika Rawlinson 

I ! 

11 V 

Happy Heather Aycock 


Notable Photo Contest Entries 

"Spring Flower" - Sergio Aguilar "A Peony From My Garden" - Margaret Helms 


Notable Photo Contest Entries 

And Now Who Will You Love? 

Kenesha Gray 

/I I ^^'^ ^ S^^^ '^^^ window and 
/ U / see the humid sunhght and the 
^•^^^y birds chirping and flying lazily 
to tree branches as if they were suffering from 
heat exhaustion, all I can do is think about 
my children. I think about how much I miss 
them and miss being about them. Then, I 
begin to think about how cold I feel, as if 
chills were running up and down my body. 
I wish that I could go home; I wish that I 
could go outside and breathe in the fresh air. 
I long for so many things, and when I think 
about my life, I've learned to love myself, my 
life, and the people that truly love me. 

Two years ago, I was happy. I mean, not 
your typical happy, but I was very pleased 
with my life. A short, brown-skinned wom- 
an, with short choppy hair, chocolate colored 
eyes, a svelte body and seductive looks, I have 
always been a man's fantasy and a woman's 
jealousy. Nobody could tell me that I was 
not fine, especially Nick. Nick Braswell and 
I were involved for six years and had three 
children: Nyshaun, Rah'Meer, and Alaysia. 
I also have a seven year old son, Anthony, 
whom Nick accepts as his own. Nick prom- 
ised me the world, and I was working hard 
to earn my place as "wife" in his heart and 
on paper. I used to love the way his Hershey 
chocolate skin would caress my body as we 
made our children, how beautiful his snowy 
white teeth looked as he smiled at me before 
we kissed deeply, how he was an excellent 
provider for our family, and how his love for 
us made me feel euphoric. 

I was so in love with him and prayed for 
him to become my husband, but that prayer 
would never be answered. The pain that I 
now feel about our love is unbearable; the 
love that I once felt has been replaced by ha- 
tred and betrayal. How could he cheat on 
me and move on, as if what we had and what 

we shared together was nonexistent? Nick 
and I not only had history and three beauti- 
ful children, but we also shared a secret that 
I had decided to take to my grave, out of my 
undying love and respect for him, a secret 
that I thought would keep him with me for 
the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, things 
between us changed drastically, and as far as 
Nick is considered, he is dead to me. 

"Ms. Bryant, are you sure that you want 

to make this decision?" the doctor asked me 
with the look of concern and disappoint- 
ment. "There are preventive medications 
and diets that will ensure that you live a 
long, healthy, and prosperous life," he said 
reassuringly, patting me tenderly on the 

"I'm fine. Dr. Kenneth. I don't need any 
medicines at this moment, but when I de- 
cide to, I will let you know." The conversa- 
tion between my doctor and me continues 
to replay in my mind, and still, even today, I 
am filled with disbelief and embarrassment. 
I wish that I could go back to 2009 and undo 
my decision. My sobs were interrupted by 
a knock at the door; the nurse arrived to 
drug my system with more treatment. The 
nurse was an older woman, with vanilla skin 
and wrinkles on her face that showed signs 
of wisdom, but her eyes sad and depressed. 
"Morphine for the pain and Amoxicillin for 
the infection, Ms. Bryant; I am also going to 
give you something to help you sleep. Your 
family will be here shortly before visiting 
hours are over with." She handed me the 
medicine and my paper cup of water, helped 
me hold my cup as I forced the bitter toxin 
down my throat, and settled back against 
the pillows. She asked me if I needed any- 
thing else before she gave me a bed bath, but 
I could not respond. I shook my head and 
tried to turn onto my side. All I could do 


was just lay there and wait to die. 

My mother sat by my side and held me 
as if it were the day I was born. My children 
were too young to understand what was oc- 
curring, but I asked for them to be with me 
at Kitty Askins. The lies that parents have 
to tell their children I now understand be- 
cause these are the same lies that I now tell 
my own children. "Mom, when are you 
coming home?" Anthony asked with tears 
in his eyes. "Mommy has a cold, Anthony. 
So I have to be here for a while, but I want 
you to look after your brothers and sister. I 
want you to be strong for them and I want 
you to know that I do love y'all and I always 
will," I told him while crying. How does a 
mother say goodbye to her children, to her 
family? This was not right, or fair for me to 
go through this! I was only twenty-six years 
old. I should have had my entire life ahead 
of me! Still, I asked for Nick. I wanted to 
see him. I wanted to hear him tell me that 
he was going to be my support and that he 
would never leave me, that he could not see 
how he could go on without me. I wanted 
him to hold me and kiss me, to assure me 
that we were in this together because of our 
bond. But, of course, Nick rarely visited. 
Friends told me that Nick couldn't come to 
terms with my dying. He couldn't see me 
this way. 

As the months passed, as I continued 
to lie on the bed at Kitty Askins, I thought 
about my life and my heartache and my chil- 
dren. As I lay there, in my early tomb, I felt 
that my time was about to expire. I thought 
about my friends in Goldsboro and all I had 
touched, and then I wondered about where 
they were now? No one was there for me ex- 
cept for my family. Nick was with Kendra; 
he left me for her, and they are happy now. 
My children are the reasons why I should 
have fought this condition, but I was not 
strong enough, not even for them. 

As tears flooded from my eyes, I gently 
closed them, and I began to see angels. I 
saw my grandmother, and I could hear her 
calling my name towards the light. But I am 
not worthy. I am not worthy to experience 
how beautiful it is there in that paradise they 
call "home." I could feel myself slip into a 
deep sleep, and I could feel God's hands pull 
me up and carry me home. 

My spirit now looks upon my mourn- 
ers; my spirit now kisses and holds my chil- 
dren. My spirit now watches over Nick, as 
he mourns for me, speaking of his regrets, 
telling his friends and anyone that would 
listen about how he will never love another 
as he loved me. On the day of my funeral, 
as the sun shines its magnificent rays on the 
town of Goldsboro, I watched my children 
play, and I saw the love of my life grieve for 
me. I whisper to Nick in his dreams, whis- 
pers of love and innocence as I tell him that 
I will wait for him as I watch for him on 
Earth. I want to say to him, even as I feel 
my soul slip away from me, "and now will 
you love? Did you ever love me at all? Will 
Kendra ever feel for you what I felt in spite 
of it all?" 

But Nick and I share a secret that no 
other woman will love him for, but I know 
soon, he will meet me here. I will see him 
again in the light, and that he will be mine 
forever because the one thing strong enough 
to keep us together was also strong enough 
to cause my demise, and that is AIDS. 

Now, my good friend Kenesha writes 
this, the final chapter of my life as she con- 
tinues to grieve over my untimely death. 
But she and everyone must know that they 
must not grieve over me because I am no 
longer suffering. I am gone, but not for- 
gotten, so they should be happy for me and 
be patient because they will see me again. I 
will continue to watch over them and wait 
for them, for all good things must come to 
an end. ♦t* 

lbs- Were- piok 

the last time I saw him, 

smell of paint and menthol, 
vodka, old oranges, 

a trash bag filled with clothes. 
Old Vargas crouched low, 

still white teeth in yellow 

light, the old look 
of hound and hunter, 

in his hand red chalk, 
worn as old scrimshaw, 

as violent as murder, 

the drawing carved 
roughly into the cracks, 
fingers fast and blurry, 
food stamps in jars 

holding open wooden doors. 

His eyes were human pink 
necrosis, ancient scars, 
his face like a legend, 
his face of weathered stone. 


Garbage Hero 

Adore Clark 

/bite down on my tongue, trying not 
to let another gasp escape through my 
lips, trying to show that it doesn't hurt, 

doesn't bother me as punches and sharp kicks 
rain down mercilessly on me. Though I can't see 
my attackers with my eyes closed and head bent 
down into my chest for protection, I can feel 
their delight. With each cry and gasp, a shiver 
of delight goes through them and kicks are re- 
newed with more strength, more ferocity. They 
don't care that I am hurt; this is only a game to 
them. They know they won't get caught just as I 
know that this won't be the last time they come 
after me. The only difference is that this time 
I won't cry out for their sick enjoyment, I tell 
myself, but it's hard as one unlucky blow lands 
in my gut. I grunt a little and tell myself that 
it didn't hurt as they laugh. It didn't hurt, ei- 
ther, at least not as much as the cruel words they 
keep shouting at me. Words that no one would 
ever repeat in front of even the worst company, 
or maybe not since they were yelling them at 
me. Like poisonous darts, their words hit me, 
their venom working into my mind and heart. 
Worming its way in deep, so that I believe it too. 
Whoever said the sticks and stones bit obviously 
never had to go through something like this. 

Finally they tire of their fun and with one 
last kick to my head they walk away laughing. 
I lay there for a while trying to find the will to 
move, every part of my body aching. As I sit 
up I can still feel each blow, each place that was 
kicked, punched, shoved and stepped on. I feel 
like an old man as I try to stand up, knowing 
that tomorrow I will feel even worse than I do 
now. Thankfully nothing seems to be broken 
which is a blessing since I wouldn't be able to 
pay a doctor's bill. I quickly gather my things, 
which my attackers have thrown all over the 
ground, some of them smashed and destroyed. 
They're not much — a rusted grocery cart, an old 
blanket, a few now dented tin cans and a small 
number of other things — but they are all I have 
in this world. 

I pick up my little cloth bag and toss it into 
my cart. It used to hold a few dollars in coins 
I had managed to scrounge up, but now they're 

all gone, spoils for my attackers. I decide it is 
best to move to the other side of the park just 
in case they choose to come back. I've seen it 
happen before, luckily not to me but once I saw 
them come back and I hid in the bushes as they 
went after another victim. They come here al- 
most every night, young men with nothing bet- 
ter to do than beat up those who can't defend 
themselves. They always come in groups too, 
sometimes as many as six at a time. They corner 
one of us while the others run and hide, and 
thrash us until they grow tired of it and leave. 
I've seen it happen too many times to count. 

I walk over a couple of yards to pick up my 
last treasure, a small music box that managed to 
survive the attack. It's metal instead of porce- 
lain, like many are, with a figurine of a puppy 
that lost its tail long before I found it. Most 
people would just have thrown it away or left it, 
scratched and dented as it is, but I liked it. It re- 
minded me of myself in a way. Before I can pick 
it up, though, another hand grabs it and I look 
up and see a young man. He's younger than I 
am but not by too many years and I can't help 
comparing our appearance. His clothes look a 
little worn but not nearly as worn as mine. His 
skin and hair look healthier too and probably 
don't smell like I'm sure mine do. I can tell he 
has money or had money. This is the third time 
I've seen him here this week, but he's never ap- 
proached me or any of the others until tonight. 

The young man holds out my music box to 
me and smiles. I hesitate for a moment, trying 
to understand what he wants. When he doesn't 
draw his hand back, I snatch the box away from 
him and hurry back over to my cart. I don't 
want some stranger touching my treasures. He 
looks at me a bit perplexed as I walk away with- 
out saying a word. If he was expecting a "thank 
you" he's sorely mistaken. Things like that are 
few and far between in this world, just another 
thing we can't afford. If he's become one of us 
he'll learn that too eventually. 

He just stands there as I walk away, push- 
ing my cart in front of me; I don't look back. 
I walk until I am on the other side of the park 
and begin going through the garbage looking 


for anything still good that someone might have 
thrown away. I find a brown paper bag with 
the name "Noah" written on the front in blue 
permanent marker. Inside I find half a peanut 
butter and jelly sandwich, an apple, a fruit roll- 
up wrapper and an empty juice box. I take the 
sandwich and apple and leave the rest in the 
trash. It's not much but it's more than I had 
this morning. 

I notice an old baby doll lying at the bot- 
tom of the trash basket. Its clothes are torn and 
dirty, a few fingers are missing on the right hand 
and the hair on its head has a bald spot. I pick it 
up and instantly decide to keep it. I never liked 
dolls but it seems to smile at me as I place it in 
my cart. I feel like a hero to this little doll who 
someone else thought was garbage. 

It's been about an hour so I wander back 
over to the other side of the park. I figure my 
attackers won't be coming back at this hour, 
plus my bench is over there anyway. I'm al- 
most to it when suddenly I hear shouting and 
laughter. I hide my cart behind some bushes 
and cautiously creep up to where the noises are 
coming from. No one sees me but I see them, 
six of them. One is on the ground while the oth- 
ers stand over him kicking, and punching. The 
one on the ground lets out a gasp as he is kicked 
on the stomach and I realize it is the young man 
from earlier. My attackers, now his, have come 
back only to find a new target. 

I turn back around, ready to leave before 
they notice me as well. I feel no guilt about 
leaving the young man to his fate. I'm sure if 
we switched places he would do the same. I 
think about how that may have been why he 
approached me in the first place. Suddenly I 
hear a scream and quickly turn back around to 
see the young man holding his leg. There is a 
knife in one of the attackers' hands. I watch as 
the attackers laugh and the one with the knife 
tries to stab the man on the ground again. At 
the last second the man rolls away but not fast 
enough and the knife grazes his shoulder. He 
lets out a moan and grabs it and again his at- 
tackers laugh. 

I realize that if this continues the young 
man may die either from blood loss or a seri- 
ous injury that the attackers are sure to inflict 
soon. I don't know why but I run towards them 

screaming and shrieking at the top of my lungs 
as if I have suddenly been possessed. They spin 
around with disorientation and confusion paint- 
ed on their faces. I pick up some rocks and be- 
gin throwing them at the attackers. They hold 
up their arms in an attempt to shield themselves 
from my attack, then take off running when I 
begin to come closer and start throwing larger 

When they are finally out of sight I stop yell- 
ing and turn my attention to the young man. I 
realize he is worse off than I thought. His leg is 
bleeding along with his shoulder, nose and hands, 
his face is all scratched up and he has a black eye 
forming already. I have no idea how much in- 
ternal damage there is. He groans again and I 
notice he is no longer conscious. I've never seen 
a beating this bad before and I grasp he needs to 
go to the hospital. I rush back to my cart and pull 
it to where the man is. I empty it a little, hiding 
my things under a bush and lift: him into it. He's 
heavy and I have trouble maneuvering him in as 
painlessly as possible but once he is in the cart I 
place my blankets around him. 

I take oflF then, pushing the cart towards the 
closest hospital I know of When I arrive I burst 
into the waiting room and everyone turns and 
stares at me. One of the nurses rushes over as 
I start yelling for help, trying to calm me down 
and get me to leave. She only glances down 
when I start pointing to the young man in my 
cart. A policeman who happens to be in the 
room tries grabbing my arm but I pull away, 
shouting still. Finally, the young man lets out 
another groan and they realize that he's there. 
They immediately go to him, realizing that he is 
not garbage like they first thought. 

Now suddenly everyone is shouting and a 
few other nurses rush over to the young man. 
They are lifting him out of the cart and on to a 
stretcher. They take him away and I am forgot- 
ten for a moment. I slowly take my cart while 
they are distracted and leave the way I came. 
When they finally remember me I will be long 
gone. As I'm walking away an ambulance speeds 
past me, its sirens blasting as goes towards the 
hospital. When I finally make it back to the 
park I place my things back into my cart then 
lay down and close my eyes. I fall asleep to the 
sound of sirens in the distance. ♦♦♦ 

This Is 


^ k ^ uring the summer months when I was a 
/ J teenager, my friends and I had a certain 
JL — ^ meeting spot where we would always 

end our Saturday nights. A country crossroads sur- 
rounded by tobacco fields, no homes for nearly three 
miles in any direction; the isolation made it the per- 
fect location for our shenanigans without disrupt- 
ing the peace that comes with a quiet country night. 
One corner of the crossroads was a small grass plot, 
roughly one-half acre in size, with two old tobacco 
barns. This was our spot where we parked to em- 
bellish our stories on the grass between the barns. 
The two tobacco barns were of the kind rarely seen 
now but once were numerous across eastern North 
Carolina — tall, mostly constructed of wood, square 
in shape, usually no more than thirty feet by thirty 
feet. One barn leaned slightly due to a busted sup- 
port beam. We dubbed this barn "The Leaning Barn 
of Tobacco," a bunch of farm boys trying to show 
off our education and razor sharp wit. No one else 
thought the name was all that fianny. 

A typical Saturday night at the barns start- 
ed around 11:30 and could last well into the wee 
morning hours. After dropping off our dates (if we 
were lucky enough to con some girl into actually ac- 
companying us out), we would gather at the barns. 
Ladies were not brought to the barns: this was our 
men's club. The only light we had, other than our 
headlights, was the moon and stars. Most of our 
vehicles had quite a few years on them before we ac- 
quired them, so using the headlight as a light source 
was almost never done; besides, we knew what we 
looked like. Sitting on the hoods of our cars or the 
tailgates of our trucks, the evening news was de- 
livered, and some of the dumbest jokes known to 
man were told. One such comical gem goes like 
this, "How many hunting dogs can you fit into a 
phone booth?" The punch line was decided by the 
joke's teller, "23" but the next time the joke was told 
the number may only be "7." Not exactly Saturday 
Night Live material. Looking back, it was great! 

One August Saturday night, a vehicle pulled up 
to "our" barns, and someone inside yelled, "Hey, 
what are you guys doing on this piece of proper- 
ty?" We tried to determine which of our buddies 
was using an unknown car to try and pull a prank. 

Our Spot 


but after a few seconds of intense staring, we real- 
ized we didn't recognize car or driver. At first there 
was nothing but the sound of the crickets and the 
running engine of the unknown vehicle. No one 
spoke for close to a full minute, and then as if I was 
somehow secretly elected the spokesman of our club, 
I replied, "Who is that?" The stranger seemed an- 
noyed with my response and yelled back, "None of 
your damn business! Why are you guys here?" By 
this time I had slid off the hood of my white 1976 
Camaro with a suavity and country cockiness that 
would have made the Duke boys of Hazzard County 
proud and began my strut towards the stranger's ve- 
hicle. The light provided by the moon and stars was 
not very bright, and I was still unable to recognize 
the stranger in the car. 

As I got closer, I realized there were two people 
in the vehicle, not one as I had originally assumed, 
and a little of the cockiness went out of my walk. 
Once I reached the driver's side window and leaned 
down a little to see in, I realized the second passenger 
was in fact a woman. The previously lost cockiness 
now returned. I also realized I knew this woman, 
sort of anyway; she worked for my dad at a local 
farm supply store. She was the living definition of a 
wild woman, and I had always thought she would be 
the perfect woman to answer a few questions I had 
concerning the opposite sex. She was in her early 
twenties, her makeup overdone, her hair fluffed-up 
and wild. Her cleavage was in full view, and her cut- 
off jean shorts were cut short enough that you could 
just make out the edge of her underwear. She wasn't 
quite in the same league as Daisy Duke, cousin of 
the previously mentioned Duke boys of Hazzard 
County, but she was close enough for me. I had to 
maintain my cockiness! 

I have no idea how long I had been standing 
there, both my hands on the edge of the driver's 
door window, looking at her when the driver yelled, 
"HEY!" I quickly snapped out of my teenage fan- 
tasy world and looked him squarely in the eyes, real- 
izing I knew him as well — not on a friendly basis, 
just by reputation. He was known as a hot-head, al- 
ways looking for trouble, and me looking right past 
him and staring at his passenger didn't do anything 
to soften his demeanor. Once again he asked, in a 


louder, now aggravated tone, "Why the hell are you 
guys sitting here?" I replied, in a very calm and even 
voice, "It's ok, we know the owner of this land and 
he knows we hang out here on Saturday nights." I 
am still not sure if it was what I said or how I said it, 
but that is when he reached below the seat. 

I first saw the grip of the pistol, brown with 
wood grain pattern. The grip also had grooves for 
each individual to help the shooter maintain a prop- 
er grip during firing. I clearly remember thinking, 
"I am about to get shot and those grips are going to 
help him with accuracy." Once the pistol was fully 
removed from under the car's seat, accuracy would 
not have been very hard to achieve since there were 
less than eight inches from the tip of my nose to exit 
point of the gun's barrel. Next, the bullet chamber 
and barrel revealed themselves, both gray. The pis- 
tol itself looked like a cheaper model, those wood 
grain grips were obviously plastic, but I could see the 
heads of the bullets in the cylindrical chamber, and 
I had no doubt it could get the job done. The term 
Saturday Night Special had never meant that much 
to me before, but now I fiiUy understood. 

My brain was beyond overload. My flight or 
fight response kicked in, but I couldn't run; Daisy 
Duke was sitting right there, and my buddies were 
watching from about thirty feet away. I couldn't 
fight either. He had a gun for God's sake, and I 
hadn't even brought a knife to this gun fight. My 
brain struggled against itself, trying to make the best 

decision to save both ego and life. Every muscle 
tensed from indecision. It was at this point I real- 
ized the driver was saying something to me, I could 
see his lips moving, but I couldn't hear any words, 
nor could I hear the running car engine or the chirp- 
ing crickets, nothing. My eyes became fixed on the 
pistol's trigger and his finger, resting there awaiting 

I could easily tell by his facial expression, squint- 
ed eyes, and furrowed brow that whatever he was 
saying to me was not meant to be used in church the 
following Sunday morning, but still I could not hear 
a word. After what was only a few minutes of con- 
stant lip movement, he placed the pistol back under 
the seat, snatched the car's gear shifter into drive, 
and flattened the gas pedal to the floorboard. Both 
he and Daisy were gone. I stood there attempting 
to regain control of my racing thoughts, took a very 
deep breath, said a quiet prayer, and walked back 
over to my buddies with the same cockiness I used 
walking away. To this day I have no idea what he 
said to me, and I never saw Daisy again; she quit 
the farm supply store the following week. My bud- 
dies were all amazed at what they had just witnessed. 
I had stared down the barrel of a gun and walked 
away unharmed. The fact that they did not know I 
was completely frozen with fear and confusion has 
always been my little secret. All they knew was that 
I had stood my ground in the face of danger and 
planted our flag on our spot! ❖ 

Two Barns 


Sherry Cranberry 

I'm on a quest to find myself, 
To reveal my true face, 
To reveal my soul 
To reveal my dreams, 
To reveal my love. 

To find my desire that hides within my mask. 

To find w^hy I hide my soul from the outside. 

To find the key that hides within my heart and unlock 

The chamber in which my passions are held prisoner. 

To find why I must find myself is to find me. 

Anika Rawlison 

The gunshot fires 

To the rhythm of my sobs. 

The tears from my eyes 

And my mourning heart 

March down my cheeks 

As in a bright brigade. 

The longing shifts restlessly 

In a redirected attack, 

Just under the surface of my wet eyes. 

And I know that renewed clarity 

is taking me there. 

To a revolution 

Heather Ay cock 

Tornado touches down on windy street 
as sudsing washer hums 
rain cascades diagonally blowing sheets 
whilst thunder drums. 

I place on plastic hangers clothes to dry 
retire as Clock ticks Tomorrow night 
behind locked doors til day arrives 
pleated skirt and tee behind which to hide. 

Shari Berk 


Sadie Goulet 


It's so dark as I stand by myself 

cold, desolate, unforgiving, 

unyielding to that which is my nature 

the scars too deep the pain too near 

I push all away in constant fear. 

"Let the darkness take me," I say, 

no longer feeling the strength to keep it at bay. 

My frame sways, vision swimming, 

driven to my knees by the heavy burden. 

In the void I heard the call soft and light 

that sent familiar warmth into my soul now broken 

at first ignoring it, content on letting the pain 

I suffered destroy me completely. 

Then a shining light thrust into my life, 

an outstretched hand reached down into the depths 

appearing before me a being shrouded 

in light and wings of shadow 

my gaze blank as the burdens were lifted 

and the fear began to dispel. 

Finding my will knowing even past death 

I would follow, for in her 

I felt she could fill my empty hollow. 

By her side I stayed for protection, for help, 

and aid of any form, but also for a love 

that I feared would never come. 

The time did come, it almost seemed like fate, 

broke open our hearts and shared a passionate embrace. 

My fear no longer present, I looked forward to the future 

and failed to notice that her demons stayed with her. 

Hidden from view by a smile and empty promises, 

fed by doubt and fear, she was pulled away 

as I was forced to watch in the distance. 

Eventually I was left to stand alone again 

not on the edge of oblivion as before, 

my ghmmer gone I returned to stone 

making the despair in which once again I reside, 

my unholy sanctum in which I hide. 

Travion Lewis 


Cause, Effect, 


rhe actions of children influence the 
direction in which their Uves will 
inevitably flow. For most children 
it is impossible to view the big picture that is 
life. Children can only see the moment they 
are living in. No matter how many times adults 
caution children; their minds cannot conquer 
anything life throws at them. It is not until chil- 
dren reach adulthood that they can look back 
down the timeline of their life and see exactly 
where it all started going wrong. 

As a child my brother, Nathan, had a ten- 
dency to act out in class. Teachers tend to just 
punish a child for misbehaving rather than look 
for the root of the problem. Had one teacher 
bothered, he or she would have ascertained that 
Nathan could not read. By the time Nathan 
was in second grade, he had discovered that if he 
acted out, the teachers would send him out of 
class. Nathan would rather be in trouble than 
let his friends and classmates know he could not 
read. In Georgia the school system has a say- 
ing, "no child left behind," which literally trans- 
lates to all children are promoted to the next 
grade whether they deserve to be of not. Na- 
than spent more time in the principal's office 
and in-school suspension than in his classroom; 
therefore, he fell even farther behind. Once a 
child has been labeled a troublemaker, teachers 
cannot or will not see past this; the child is a 
lost cause from this point on. Sometime around 
the fourth or fifth grade our mother put him in 
a private school. At this point Nathan was so 
convinced that there was no other way to get 
through school that he continued to be a nui- 
sance every day, all day. Therefore, nothing had 
changed except for the location. 

As a preteen he was put back into the public 
school system. His behavior caused him to be 
kicked out of every school that he was trans- 
ferred to. Finally, the board of education said 
enough is enough. By this time the board of 
education had set up a school for children of 

and Consequences 

n Bunkley 

all ages who were labeled trouble. This meant 
a troubled fifth grader would be in classes with 
a troubled eleventh grader. Nathan was con- 
stantly coming home bruised from fighting. At 
some point in this school year some police of- 
ficers came to Nathan's school to look for drugs. 
One of Nathan's so-called older friends just hap- 
pened to have a joint on him that day. Being 
younger and not quite as bright as the other boy, 
Nathan agreed to hold onto it for the older boy. 
Needless to say, Nathan was found in possession 
of the marijuana. He was only in the sixth grade 
when he was arrested for possession of an illegal 
substance on school property. Our mother was 
new to the whole legal system; being naive, she 
did not get him an attorney, and on top of that 
she told him just to tell the truth. Nathan told 
the truth and got sent off^ for a year to a juvenile 
correctional institution. 

While at this facility Nathan endured more 
pain than most of us can only imagine. He was 
raped repeatedly while he was there. When Na- 
than returned home, what good was in him had 
all but vanished. The system had taken a bro- 
ken child and sent home a shattered teenager. 
We knew something had happened, but he just 
would not open up to anyone. Our mother took 
him to many psychologists to get him help; still 
Nathan would not open up. This left the doc- 
tors with only two choices: dope the child up or 
let him stay the way he was. This was the begin- 
ning of Nathan's love affair with drugs. 

When it came time for Nathan to go back to 
school, the school district would not allow him 
to enroll, forcibly making him a drop out in the 
eighth grade. During his early years he was a 
pupil at every private school in the county; thus, 
they did not want him back. Our mother and 
his father had long since been divorced, leav- 
ing Nathan in a one-parent family. Around the 
age of fourteen, Nathan was home alone most 
of the time with all the pretty colored pills the 
doctor had prescribed. Unsupervised, Nathan 


began experimenting with drugs and girls. For 
more than ten years Nathan could not keep a 
girlfriend longer than a week. They did not 
leave him; he always kicked them to the curb. 
Nathan had his first child around the age of fif- 
teen, a little girl named Nadia. 

As a young adult Nathan's life really did not 
see much improvement. We had another broth- 
er, John Mark. John Mark died when Nathan 
was a young adult. After a loss like that, a whole 
man can be crushed; there is not a word strong 
enough to explain what a loss of this magnitude 
can do to an already shattered young man. We 
were all so crushed at this point that there was 
no way for any of us to be there for Nathan. It 
was all we could do just to get ourselves through 
the day. Nathan returned to jail many more 
times and got a few more girls pregnant. At the 
local jail house he is known as a frequent flier, 
meaning he was regularly in and out of their fa- 

Nathan is now in his early thirties. He still 
lives at home with our mother. However, he 
does leave for a week or two to go shack up with 
his flavor of the week. I should note Nathan is 
married however; they were only together for less 
than one month before she left. Nathan is an 
alcoholic, and he eats Xanax (doctor prescribed) 
on a daily basis like they are candy. Nathan has 
been to jail more than thirty times. Nathan has 
five children that we know of He only gets to 
see one of the five on a regular basis: his oldest, 
Nadia. If it was not for our mother, he would 
not even have contact with Nadia. 

Ml of this could have been avoided if his 
teacher had only taken the time to find out what 
was causing a boy of seven to misbehave on a 
daily basis. It is negligent for a school board 
to promote moving children forward to grades 
they are not ready for. Had just one person 
from the school district been there for him, he 
could have had a totally different life. ♦♦♦ 

FrozenWater Fountain at The First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Goldsboro 


Connor Hardy ^ 


Sitting around the kitchen table, 

my grandmother, my mother, and me. 

Smells of home cooking fill the air. 

Listening to stories about days past. 

People and places long since forgotten 

returning to our thoughts in memories. 

I remember when I was a little girl. 

How I longed to be at this table 

Wishing for the day when I would 

be old enough to sit and take my place. 

Now, I long for the time when I was small. 

My head in my mother's lap as she rocked me. 

Only pretending to fall asleep so I could listen. 

Praying for the day when 

I would be just like them. 

Days long gone, memories to cherish, 

dreams to pass on. 

One day there will be a 4th generation. 
To come and sit and fill her soul with the 
sepia lineage of family and friends. 



Candace lones 



Every woman has a life with a song to sing, but still I don't cry if life isn't fair. I guarantee that life 
can't hold a bowl of knowledge that didn't fit our full, stubby size. I call the gospel of truth to be 
announced like a debut of song where everyone could have the greatest love of all. People, listen to 
us, and listen to the craft we build of our song, song, sooooooooooong! True, that. 

Nicole Denise 


Life's Unexpected Changes 

Tina Sharpe 

June 2007 was a very hot and sultry day. 
I arrived home and made my way up- 
stairs into my apartment. Once I got 

inside, I felt exhausted. My heart was pound- 
ing. I thought to myself, maybe the reason that 
I am breathing so heavily is because I am out of 
shape. I remember holding my chest and think- 
ing, something is not right. My boyfriend re- 
pUed, "You should go to the doctor for a physi- 
cal." I just put it in the back of my mind and 
continued putting the groceries away. A couple 
of months went by, and I was looking for a new 
job. I applied at Sunrise Assisted Living, which 
was a retirement home. I had interviewed and 
was asked to take a TB skin test, which was re- 
quired in order to work for the company. I was 
hired and immediately started training. I grew 
very fond of my new job. I worked hard, inter- 
acted with the residents, and worked overtime, 
even on weekends. One afternoon when I ar- 
rived at work, I felt an uncomfortable sensation 
in my chest. I decided to take my temperature. 
It was 102 degrees. I just casually took two Ty- 
lenols and went back to work. I said to myself, 
Tina, your shift is almost over. Tomorrow you 
can go to the emergency room. The next morn- 
ing I was seen at the Pineville Medical Center 
and treated for bronchitis. I still managed to 
work and take my medication. Over the course 
of two weeks, I didn't see much improvement. 
I returned to the emergency department and 
was told I had pneumonia. I just recall feel- 
ing disappointed. I had never been hospitalized 
before and besides, I was ready to get back to 
work. I stayed in the hospital for three days and 
was sent home on antibiotics. I also was told to 
drink plenty of fluids. Meanwhile, I was stuck 
sitting home feeling terrible. I could not Ue 
down without feeling as though my lungs were 
going to collapse; all I could think was. What in 
the world in going on with me^ 

Stage One: Confusion — I was having a hard 

time grasping the fact that I was hospitalized 
and taking antibiotics for almost a month, and 
still there were no changes in my condition. I 
quickly returned to the emergency department 
to report shortness of breath. The nurse took 
my vitals and noticed I was already in the hos- 
pital's system. "You were here recently, weren't 
you?" "Yes!" I replied. I was informed that it 
would be necessary for me to stay for further 
evaluation. The process started all over again. I 
was hooked up to machines and received antibi- 
otics through an IV. After being in my room for 
several hours I was told I would have a minor 
procedure done called a bronchoscopy, where 
a flexible tube containing a fiber optic camera 
would be inserted down my throat. A small 
sample of lung tissue would be sent off^ to the 
lab to look for specific organisms. The doctor 
came back and told me she had the results from 
the chest x-ray and bronchoscopy. 

Stage Two: Relief — I would finally have an 
answer. I was told I had inflammation in my 
lungs, and because of the itchy reddish purple 
bumps on my knees, it was possible I had Sor- 
coidosis. It is characterized by the development 
and growth of tiny clumps of inflammatory cells 
in diff^erent areas of your body, most commonly 
the lung, but sometimes other parts of the body 
as well. The doctor informed me that I had to 
take Prednisone, which is a corticosteroid that 
would help with my breathing and inflamma- 
tion in my lungs. I was discharged and sent 
home to follow up with a specialist. I automati- 
cally assumed I would get better after taking the 
steroids. I was wrong. 

Stage Three: Frustration — ^A couple of weeks 
went by, and my fever returned. My lungs pro- 
ceeded to get worse, and those reddish purple 
bumps were spreading all over my left leg and 
elbows. Once again I returned to the emergency 
room, where I was admitted. The doctors had 
no clue what was wrong with me, so they just 
concentrated on getting my fever to subside. I 


was hospitalized for five days and was becoming 
very agitated. I was four hours away from fami- 
ly, and in desperate need of them. My boyfriend 
suggested I check out of Pineville Medical Cen- 
ter and into Pitt Memorial Hospital. I agreed 
because I would have more support and maybe 
the whole process might move a little faster for 
me. Once I arrived at Pitt Memorial Hospital, 
I had some of the same tests repeated. I was be- 
ing treated by a rheumatologist who specializes 
in autoimmune diseases. 

The rheumatologist was reviewing my re- 
cords and came to the conclusion that my symp- 
toms were similar to Lupus, an autoimmune 
disease which causes your immune system to 
attack healthy cells and tissues. Lupus can also 
damage many parts of the body. I just wanted 
closure. Could this be Lupus? My rheumatolo- 
gist suggested I have an open lung biopsy to 
confirm the diagnoses for Lupus. I refused and 
was discharged and sent home with another pre- 
scription for Prednisone. I could no longer walk 
without feeling as if I was going to pass out. I 
went to a primary doctor and was told that my 
oxygen levels were only at about 72%. I needed 
to be on oxygen at all times until further notice. 
I made an appointment to see the rheumatolo- 
gist. We had a disagreement about how much 
time had been wasted and both agreed the best 
thing for me was to be readmitted back into the 
hospital for the open lung biopsy. The biopsy 
never confirmed if I had Lupus, but the rheu- 
matologist was certain it was Lupus. I was dis- 
charged and sent home with a new medication 
to take along with the prednisone. 

Stage Four: Depression and Anger — Even- 
tually, I returned back home to Charlotte, North 
Carolina where I had some improvement on in- 
home oxygen and portable oxygen tanks. I was 
in my early twenties and already taking medica- 
tion and on oxygen. Just when I thought things 
could not get any worse I broke out in a rash 
all over my body. Depression kicked into high 
gear. I didn't want to be bothered. I would not 
answer my phone for days. I stayed in the house 

for weeks. I only went to doctor's appointments. 
My skin had dark splotches everywhere, on my 
chest, back, arms, and neck. Dry yellowish skin 
flaked from my face. I picked at my face con- 
tinuously, which made it much worse. I tried 
prescription creams and lotions that dermatolo- 
gists prescribed for me, but nothing seemed to 
work. I was itching all the time. I scratched 
my armpits until they became so infected they 
would drain pus. I had an open lesion in be- 
tween the creases of my groin and buttocks. I 
felt like a monster. I became so suicidal that I 
was unable to sleep. I vividly remember lying 
in the bed trying to sleep but I was unable to. I 
could only hear the harsh sounds of growling in 
my ear. The growling was so intense I could feel 
the breath from the demons literally on my ear 
which had me so uneasy. I thought I was going 
insane. I was being tormented. I cried out to 
God and asked for help. 

Stage Five: Acceptance — Finally I went to 
see one last rheumatologist, who diagnosed me 
with mixed connective tissue disease, an uncom- 
mon autoimmune disorder that causes overlap- 
ping features of primarily three diseases: Lupus, 
scleroderma, and polymositis. People with 
mixed connective tissue disease are often first 
diagnosed with Lupus. I continued taking my 
medication although I still had another setback. 
On my birthday, July 9, 2008, I was admitted 
into the hospital for severe nausea and vomiting, 
sinusitis, acute renal failure, and malnutrition. I 
was so fragile and drained that doctors were un- 
sure about my prognosis, but with the help of 
my father and support from my family, I began 
to fight like a lioness fighting for her cubs. I had 
no clue what I would come to endure. 

In the end, I would come to learn that in 
life you will experience certain challenges that 
will take you through many different stages, but 
those events are shaping and molding you into 
a greater person. I truly believe that I had to 
endure all of this is order to learn how to have 
more patience. Maybe I will help someone else 
with my story, ♦t* 

Tools of the trade: 


Bird skull 

Little feather 

Three tails of a mouse 

Oriental flowers 



Silhouette of Iwo Jima 
A cup of coffee 
The last three hours 

Dear Steven, 

someday we'll dream again 

you are my friend 

I am 

to be celebrated 

laugh if you must if my pains give you pleasure 
nothing meant to stay will fall 

he said he loves me 

and the strangers danced 

I wish violence ended like nightmares do 
declining into love 

I smile 
Loving you, 


A day in the life 

Set the stage, take off 

Paris 1945, autumn, Champs-Elysees — 

Jason the cowboy knight, Shetland pony 

Magic lights, thunder cloud, curious dog 

Chance encounter — a girl and her snake 

"Who am I?" 

Blank stare. 

The forbidden bacchanal dropping forever green 

Thirst, life blood, turn and twist 


Death of a dream, the end of the day 

Show down, bloody tears 

Forget here — here, there be monsters. 

Thanksgiving nightmare, 
Carhsle's Park, 
The Cabin of Oz: 

Dear Son, 

Good morning! 
Biscuits and coffee? 

Sunday morning conversion? 
Subway faces ! 
Ominous stairs! 


My good sense lost in my head. 


From Civilian to Marine Recruit 

David Sager 

rhe US Marine Corps is a military or- 
ganization: it does not work if it is 
staffed with civilians. It must turn ci- 
vilian volunteers into Marines, but before it can 
turn them into Marines, it must first turn them 
into recruits for the purpose of initial training. 
The recruit is taught that he or she is less than 
all those around him, civilian or Marine. The 
civilian aspects are stripped away and torn down 
to leave the raw recruit, who is then rebuilt into 
a Marine. The first thirty-six hours are the most 
important part of this process. It is a psycho- 
logical assault, a dehumanizing approach to re- 
move any sense of self-worth or individuality. 
All the senses are attacked and the comfort zone 

This process begins the moment the bus or 
van carrying the civilian volunteers enters onto 
the base. The slow drive through the base to 
the processing building builds an ominous sus- 
pense, intensified by warnings of the driver and 
chaperone of what will transpire. Most arriv- 
als are planned for dusk and late into the night 
as sleep deprivation is a key part of the attack 
on the psyche. As soon as the vehicle arrives in 
front of the processing building, drill instruc- 
tors spring into action. The quiet of the bus is 
shattered by screaming drill instructors simul- 
taneously shouting contradictory and comple- 
mentary orders as they grab and shove the soon 
to be recruits out of their seats and into neat 
rows, feet planted firmly on the infamous "yel- 
low footprints." Even after all volunteers are out 
onto the yellow footprints, the drill instructors 
continue their verbal and physical assaults. The 
volunteers are given warnings about what is ex- 
pected from them and that quick obedience to 
orders is all that matters. 

From the yellow footprints the volunteers 
are rushed through the large double doors into 
the processing building and lined up in a near- 
by hallway where they make a quick phone call 
home to deliver a standard message that they have 

arrived safely and will send further word when 
allowed. They are then herded into a classroom 
to wait for the rest of the volunteers, who will 
be arriving during the next twelve hours. Large 
bodies are crammed into tiny chairs and heads 
are ordered down onto the desk, a cramped and 
uncomfortable position to maintain for hours. 
Any noise or attempt to look around attracts the 
wrath of the attendant and passing drill instruc- 

Then, exhaustion and subsequent disorien- 
tation set in, as well as self-doubt about the wis- 
dom of the person who has immersed himself 
or herself in this situation. During the course 
of the night, more and more civilians trickle in, 
shocked and disoriented, having gone through 
the same sequence of events but even later into 
what should be their sleep time. There is no 
clock and only small windows in the room, so 
those without a watch are at the mercy of their 
imaginations concerning the passage of time. It 
is tempting to stare as the other volunteers ar- 
rive, but no one wants to draw the ire of the 
drill instructors. Eventually, the room is full 
and faint light begins to show in the small win- 

At this point, fresh drill instructors are un- 
leashed on the disheveled and bleary-eyed vol- 
unteers. Personal items are demanded from 
pockets to be held in storage for the duration of 
boot camp, and threats are invoked, enumerat- 
ing legal consequences of hiding any past mis- 
deeds from the Corps, regardless of what the re- 
cruiter counseled (recruiters make sure nothing 
serious shows up in official records, and then 
advise potential recruits not to say anything 
about any other possible legal troubles in their 
personal history). Various potential recruits 
will come forward to list past sins, lest they be 
found out later. Only after the recruit gets out 
of boot-camp does he or she find out there was 
almost no way for the military to find out any- 
thing the recruiter didn't, which is why the re- 


cruiters counsel what they do. 

Once this part is out of the way, potential 
recruits are herded over and through one ad- 
ministrative hurdle and hoop after another. Pa- 
per work must be signed off and personal effects 
must be catalogued and stored away. Military 
gear and personal care items of all types must 
be catalogued, issued, and stored. All of this 
is accomplished for hundreds of fresh potential 
recruits in a matter of two days with machine- 
like efficiency. From one station to the next, 
bewildered and exhausted teens are shifted and 
handed a new external identity, one that will 
take the next three months or more to be inter- 

The most agonizing and striking part of this 
process other than the initial arrival is "The First 
Haircut," in which the hair is reduced to a buzz 
cut. The boot camp haircut accomplishes three 
things. The first and most important aspect of 
the haircut is to accomplish the same thing the 
uniform accomplishes: uniformity. There is no 
room for individuality in a military unit, and 
different hair lengths and styles are a primary 
source of expressing individuality. A second ac- 

complishment is hygienic in nature. Living un- 
der harsh conditions and in close proximity is a 
breeding ground for all sorts of bugs, like lice, 
and germs. Removing a potentially conducive 
environment for lice is healthy. A third accom- 
plishment is the degrading aspect of the actual 
haircut as the practically robotic military bar- 
bers roughly shear the still exhausted potential 
recruits with all the care of a butcher chopping 
meat. It is only the extremely fortunate who 
emerge from the chair without nasty cuts and 
scrapes across the scalp, and none emerge with 
any hair to speak of 

By the end of the first thirty-six hours, the 
new Marine recruit is allowed to crash into bed 
as a transformed entity. Gone is the individual, 
with his or her personal style of dress and ac- 
centuation. It its place, at least through appear- 
ance, is a uniform cog in the military machine. 
From head to toe, he or she looks like the other 
unit members to the left and right. Now that 
the process of turning the civilian into a recruit 
is complete, the process of turning the recruit 
into a Marine may begin. ♦♦♦ 

US Flag Over Confederate Fortress 


Tom Jordan 

He's a likeable heart just to say, mama, dada. Snuggling up in blankets is the only world he knew, just 
to rest in his bed thinking about peace, and in peace he cares to stay. Many road parks, lanes, district 
schools, and highways are where his friends are rhyming and rapping along just to know the ABC's. 
He stretches his arms of love to know where his parents be. The little tyke hears a familiar call, "Sun 
Bear, papa's here. Time to come home." What else you see in him, a child's place is where he rests and 
plays, he could come out any other day. To all Sun bears just be true, remember; you're just a child — 
don't grow too soon. 

Nicole Denise 

Grandmom and Son Nicole Denise 



^ a * he day was too hot, the stillness in- 
^ / side the house too hollow to do any- 
thing else. Aaron opened the screen 
door to the sound of cicadas calling 
like a rattlesnake's hum in the distance, sweep- 
ing his hair out of his face as he checked his 
watch. Four-thirteen. An hour and a half until 
Scott would be home from his girlfriend's house, 
the rumble of the exhaust barely quieted before 
their mother pulled into the driveway. Scott 
didn't give a damn what Aaron did as long as he 
kept quiet, and the sunbleached grass just felt 
like thorns when it brushed his toes, through his 
sandals. The bike was a beat-up hand-me-down, 
but anything was better than the house. 

Aaron discovered the path that winter, 
through sheer boredom, a longing for anything. 
A lone pane of unbroken glass had flashed at 
him through the trees, and he had made out 
the remains of a driveway over a drainage ditch. 
A path leading into nothing, the nothing of a 
weatherbeaten one-story, windows like lifeless 
eyes. Aaron had no idea whose land it was, or 
if it even belonged to anyone, or if anything re- 
mained inside. It was only a destination at the 
edge of the town, and that was good enough. 

Everything good was gone. The planks of 
the porch had been pulled up, leaving a strange 
grid of rotting supports. A splintered gap in the 
roof let in a shaft of sunlight, burning off a pool 
of rancid rainwater. Aaron shouldered through 
the quiet, hands in his pockets. In a graffiti- 
stained corner he found a pile of crushed beer 
cans, the butt-ends of cigarettes, a tattered lawn 
chair. All the panes of glass in the house were 
broken now. That last reflection, that burst of 
brilliance like the beam of a lighthouse in the 
stillness, had been gone for months. Holes in 
the walls showed where the house had been 
looted for copper, for anything left, besides a 
sagging recliner upholstered in drab brown and 
white. Even the seat had been torn as though 
the promise of a single penny dropped from an 
unsuspecting pocket hadn't been passed up. 

"Hey! Hold still." 

Aaron's head jerked up and he tossed his 
hair out of his face again, mouth set. He glanced 

back at the ruined porch he'd had to pick over, 
judging the distance to the bike, before he 
squared his shoulders. The puddles were easy to 
avoid, but the muted creaking beneath some of 
his steps made his footfalls light. 

They were in the backyard, the pair of them, 
a boy and girl. The boy looked to be a year older 
than Aaron, the girl a year or two younger. They 
were in the doorway of a sagging barn, holding 
something up into the light, squinting at it. It 
reminded Aaron of the dusty smeared glass in 
his grandfather's garage, bottles of ancient cola 
with names he didn't recognize — the reek of 
the chewing tobacco, warm and viscous in red 
plastic cups. Aaron shuddered, then opened the 
back door, his gaze locked to the pair of them. 

The grin on the boy's face dropped into a 
small smile, quick as an eyeblink. "Hi," he said, 
as the girl began to move behind him, her arms 
crossing over her chest. Her grin was gone like 
it had never been. 

"Hey," Aaron said. 

"This your place?" 

"Sure," Aaron said, leaning against the back 
door frame. The only appliance left in the aban- 
doned kitchen was a rusted-out chest freezer 
older than Aaron's mother. "Sorry the butler 
didn't greet you, it's his day off." 

The girl covered a snicker behind one hand, 
her fingertips ending in unpolished nails, a fist- 
ful of black bangles wide against her slender 
wrist. "Shame," she said, dropping her hand 
again. The grin was gone, but the corner of her 
mouth had turned up. 

Aaron was ten minutes late getting home, 
but so was Scott, so neither of them cared. 

The first real day of summer. Jack was going 
to come by with Bren and they were going to go 
somewhere, anywhere other than this town. 

As a joke. Jack and Bren had helped Aaron 
sweep the beer cans out, to clear up the rainwa- 
ter, but they'd gravitated back there four days 
later, then spent all the lazy days of summer 
they could there, bringing the cheap frozen sug- 
ar-water popsicles their mothers kept stashed in 
the bottom of the freezer, the ice melting practi- 


cally as soon as they opened them. It was their 
place until the first really cold day, until the day 
half the roof fell in and Jack nearly fell through 
a rotting floorboard, and then they just huddled 
together in the kitchen, blowing on their fin- 
gers and daring each other to stay until dark and 
enter the pitch-black barn without a flashlight. 
They made up elaborate ghost stories, about In- 
dian burial grounds and abandoned sad-eyed 
widows, blood feuds and desperate thieves, un- 
til the words just fell into the soft tilt and sway 
of their bodies as they watched the camp lantern 
and wished for anything else. 

Aaron wasted time, wasted and wasted until 
the light was dying, and then the phone rang. 
The voice on the other end, rushed, feminine, 
asked if Aaron's mother was home, and when 
he stammered through the negative, she took a 
deep breath. 

"It's awful. It's awfiil." 

Aaron got on his bike after that, pedal- 
ing until he was drawing air so rapid it rasped 
against his throat, standing as he pounded down 
the pedals. He knew she was there, and she was; 
Bren stood in the shadow of the barn, her head 
down, even once Aaron walked up to her, his 
hands in his pockets. 

There were no words in him. Aaron had 
been so full of words, so many lies and dreams. 

but that was nothing in the face of this. 

She looked up at him, her fingers digging 
white crescent-moons into her wrist, her eyes 
drowning. Nothing and everything. Jack was 

Nothing and everything. 
"He's gone." 

Aaron nodded, digging his hands harder 
into his pockets. He took a deep breath, glanc- 
ing over at the house, the rotting, tumbled- 
down house. 

Scott was never going to miss the lighter, 
and Aaron knew that. Aaron took it out and 
flicked it on, and the fire danced, reflected in 
Bren's drowning eyes. He reached over and took 
her hand, and the white crescents turned blood- 
red, but she followed as they walked to the sag- 
ging back porch and sat down on the steps one 
last time. 

"I want to burn it down. I want to burn ev- 
erything down." 

"That won't fix it." 

Bren shrugged. "It's that or me," she whis- 
pered. "I feel like I'm falling and there's no 

Slowly, Aaron wrapped his hand around 
hers. "Then I will be." ♦♦♦ 

Cloud Over Wayne County 


Karen Hartley 

M (till (I, I LieJ 

Mama asked me a question tonight and 

Mama told me to be honest with her 
but I still hed 

Mama I have a secret to tell, 
but I'm scared 

Mama I really want to tell you 

but I don't want you to be mad at me 

Mama if I tell, what will happen. . . 

Mama I'm sorry I lied to you, 

I'm sorry I'm keeping secrets from you 

even though you said be honest 

Mama I'm sorry I just can't tell you right now 

but I promise I wdll tell you soon 

But I know it's gonna hurt me to tell you the truth 

It hurts me to lie to you and to hurt you by lying 

Mama, please say that you love me and 

I'm sorry that I lied 

Sierra Kornegay 

The Sons and Daughters of Middle Earth Four: Rise of the Shanobie Wolf Clan 

An Excerpt 
Adam Payne 

Chapter 1 - Mileena's Choice and Sentwoa's 

Tears after Milia and Sentwoa were 
wed, things started to change. A 
new age had started to awaken: the 
age of the Shanobie wolf clan, a dark and 
dangerous clan of wolf warriors far more 
dangerous than the Sindikye wolf clan. Their 
purpose was not to enslave, but to battle un- 
til the end of time. Sentwoa, the wolf em- 
peror who had completed his journey, was 
reminded that after the Sword of Alexander 
was brought back to the grave of Alexander, 
Alexander's presence was somewhat brought 
back to life. It came to pass that when Alex- 
ander's sword was returned, he himself was 
reborn back to his old self, somewhere in 
the forest of time and peace. Sentwoa was 
amazed to hear this report from one of his 
generals, who came back from the forest and 
said to Sentwoa, "My lord, I have witnessed 
a man who somehow has been reborn. It 
is Alexander himself, the one who was also 
known as the shadow knight Lord Reign." 

"This is amazing, but how is it that this 
warrior, my old friend, can come back to 
life?" said Sentwoa, looking confused. 

"Because, my lord, his sword had some 
kind of power surrounding it when he came 
back to life. Should I have my men go and 
get him there in the forest? He is still there 
even as we speak," said the general. 

"Yes, send some of your riders to go and 
pick him up. Bring him to me when he gets 
here. Go now," said Sentwoa. 

The general sent out his five riders to 
go and pick up Alexander. When Mileena 
heard this, she was surprised to know that 
her old love, the love of her life, had come 

"My queen," said Sentwoa, "Alexander 
has returned. It seems his sword had some 
sort of power to bring him back to life." 


"I see. This is wonderful to know," said 
Mileena. She was so happy and she wanted 
so badly to go back to him, but she was al- 
ready married to Sentwoa. 

A few hours later, Alexander came into 
the throne room of Sentwoa and Mileena. 
They were watching him as he came down 
the way. Mileena's heart started to beat 
harder than before, as if her old feelings for 
Alexander were coming back to her. 

"My friend. It is good to see you alive. 
Welcome back," said Sentwoa. He went 
from his throne to Alexander and hugged 
him and said, "This is a great day; my friend 
and ally, back from the dead. How do you 
feel, my friend?" asked Sentwoa. 

"Ah, Sentwoa. It is good to see you as 
well. I see that the prophecy has been ful- 
filled, and you and. . .oh, Mileena. It is good 
to see you again, too. I am glad you did 
this for us all and for me. Thank you," said 

When Alexander saw Mileena, his blood 
began to stir, his heart began to beat faster, 
and he wanted so much to hold her again. 

"Alexander, my old love. I am glad you 
are back. May I see you a moment, alone?" 
asked Mileena. 

"Of course, Mileena. I mean, your maj- 
esty," said Alexander. 

They went into the hall, and after a mo- 
ment, Mileena hugged Alexander in her 
arms. She didn't want to let go, but Alex- 
ander said, "No, your majesty. We must 

"Shhhh... don't call me that. I missed 
you so much. It's been thousands of years 
since I held you in my arms. You were all 
I could think about ever since you died. 
Please hold me," said Mileena. 

"I can't. You are with my friend Sent- 
woa, and I told you, this is what had to hap- 
pen. Yes I do want to hold you in my arms 
again, but no matter how much I want to, I 

can't, it wouldn't be right. Sentwoa is. . ." 

"Sentwoa is not the one I love more. 
You are! Don't you see? We are meant to be 
together. I need you and I want you," said 

"How can you say that after all this time? 
I thought I made it clear to you that you 
were meant to be with him. It was hard for 
me to admit it, but it's the truth. You can't 
just leave him. It will break his heart, and 
I know that because I saw the anger in him 
when I fought as lord reign. I saw fire in his 
eyes, more determined than anyone I have 
seen in my life. I never had that look before. 
Please, try to understand. He loves you. He 
has always loved you. More than anyone, 
even me," said Alexander. 

"I know that. But still, I love you more. 
Please don't leave me," said Mileena. "I love 
you more than anything. I wanted to run 
to you the moment I saw you. Please let 

But before she could finish, Sentwoa 
entered the hall. He noticed Mileena and 
spoke to her and said, "So, you were never 
in love with me, were you?" said Sentwoa, 
looking at Mileena. "Why didn't you tell 
me you still loved him? You could have. 
And now I...argh...ahh. Sorry, but I have 
to go," said Sentwoa, before running away. 

"Oh no. Not him. Not now," said Al- 

Alexander saw the look in Sentwoa's eyes. 
It was the look of the Shanobie wolf 

"What is it, Alexander? Why did Sent- 
woa run?" asked Mileena. 

"He heard us. The wolf warriors have 
strong hearing and strong senses. They can 
hear anything from a far distance, to miles 
away from a city. When he heard you and 
me talking, my guess is that the Shanobie 
wolf inside him started to awaken." 

"But that's impossible. How could that 
happen to him? I know what I said was the 
truth, but... now I know why. He is mad 
at me for saying what I said," said Mileena, 
looking guilty. 

Mileena was upset with herself for what 
she said to Alexander, but she couldn't help 
it. She was deeply in love with Alexander 
still. But she still needed to tell Sentwoa 
the truth, so she went after him up to their 
room and saw him standing there by the 
window. She said, "Sentwoa, I am so, so 
sorry for what happened downstairs, but I 
couldn't help myself. I still love him, but I 
also love you as well. But the truth is, I love 
him more. I am sorry, but it is the truth." 

"For years, I have tried to fight my in- 
ner weakness, even hide from some of the 
people I know and love and care for. Even 
from you, my queen. But when I heard you 
and Alexander, it started to awaken again. 
Now, I am afraid that I may not be able to 
stop. I will need to battle with some of our 
enemies, the bad, the dangerous, and the 
worst. It's the only way to fight it. But if it 
keeps eating away at me, I don't know how 
long it will take to get away from me. I hope 
you understand. Yes, I am upset with you 
about what you said, but I understand," said 

When Mileena heard this she started to 
cry. "Oh, Sentwoa. I am sorry. I am so 
sorry. Please forgive me. I do love you, and 
if I must, I will not go back to him. I will 
stay here with you," said Mileena. 

Sentwoa went from the window to Mi- 
leena to hold her in his arms. He also was 
sad about what happened, but then he start- 
ed to feel the change inside of him. 

"Mileena, No. No, 
not now! Mileena! Run! AAAAHHHH!" 

Sentwoa started to back away from Mi- 
leena, a pain in his chest and muscles, and 
suddenly, his eyes began to turn black, his 
hair began to turn as well, and then he ran 
toward the window and crashed through. 
He ran into the forest and changed into a 
Shanobie wolf. He ran for days, through 
thundering storms, trying to keep himself 
away from the ones he loved most. When 
he got to the kingdom of Caro, he stopped 
and then began to change back. He then let 

out a loud wolf's howl. 

"Oh no. What have I done?" said Sent- 
woa, fearfully. 

Chapter Two - Sentwoa's Worst Night- 

A few days later Sentwoa ended up in 
the Kingdom of Caro. King Caro himself 
saw Sentwoa, whose clothes were torn. Caro 
sent out his guards to get Sentwoa and bring 
him to the castle. 

"Emperor Sentwoa, our king Caro wish- 
es for you to come to his castle and speak 
with him. Shall we take you to him?" said 
the Captain of the Guard. 

"Yes. I need to speak with him at once. 
Take me to him now," said Sentwoa. 

When Sentwoa arrived in the castle, 
Sentwoa could still feel the darkness inside 
trying to get out. He tried to hold on as best 
as he could. When he saw Caro, he was at 

"Prince Sentwoa Wolf, or should I say. 
Emperor Sentwoa Wolf? Welcome back 
to the kingdom of Caro. Guards, leave us 
now," said Caro, dismissing his royal guard. 

"Sit beside me, Sentwoa. We have much 
to talk about." 

"Yes, your majesty," said Sentwoa. 

"Please, call me Caro. We are friends af- 
ter all, and I am one of the men who helped 
educate and teach you all that you know. So 
tell me, what brings you to my home?" said 

"The Shanobie Wolf. That's what 
brought me here. I started to turn into a 
wolf in my own home in front of my wife, 
Mileena. I crashed through a window and 
raced through storms trying to avoid any- 
one I cared for getting in the way. You see, 
my friend, this monster inside me wants 
a battle, a conflict of any kind, but not to 
enslave; it wants to defeat anyone it fights 
with. I wouldn't blame you if you wanted 
me to leave," said Sentwoa. 

"No, my young friend, you are among 

friends here, and I know what you speak of 
For centuries, my people have been in con- 
tact with yours. The first time I saw one was 
when I was leading a team of wolf warriors 
through the forest of time and peace. One 
of them showed signs of fear and anger. He 
then started to howl loudly and then started 
to turn. How he became like that, I am not 
so sure, but I knew of a way to cure him," 
said Caro. 

"How? Please tell me. I want to know." 

"I cured him with the Sun Sword, by 
placing it to his heart and letting the blade's 
power cure him. He was cured in less than 
a second. I believe it can cure you. Would 
you like to try it?" 

"Yes, please. I need to be cured of this. 
I don't want to be a Shanobie wolf forever," 
said Sentwoa. 

"Very well then. Guard?" 

"Yes, my lord?" 

"Bring me the Sun Sword at once. We 
need it here now for our friend. Do we still 
have it here?" asked Caro. 

"No, my lord. It was hidden away in the 
kingdom of Zeldoc. Remember, you asked 
for it to be sent there for safe keeping." 

"I see. Then we need to get it back. Send 
out one of the guards and knights to retrieve 
the sword and bring it back here. Go now!" 
said Caro. 

"Yes, my lord. We will report back when 
we have it," said the guard. 

"Sentwoa, you look tired. You need to 
rest. Go to the next tower on the south side 
of the kingdom. You will be safe there un- 
til my men come back with the sword. Go 
now and peace be with you." 

"And also with you, my friend," said 

Sentwoa left the castle and headed to- 
ward the tower, and on his way, he saw 
Queen Reeshel, Caro's wife. She went up to 
him and started to greet him. 

"Sentwoa, my goodness you have grown. 
It has been years since we last saw you. Wel- 
come back," said Reeshel. 

"It is good to see you again, too, your 
majesty. I am sorry for being so tired, but 
I haven't slept or eaten in days. Your hus- 
band, Caro, is sending me to the south tow- 
er to have some rest, but if you can, could 
you send some men to send me some food 
and water? I would be most grateful," said 

"Of course. I will send them at once. 
Have a good rest, and by the way, whatever 
is going on with you in your life, I am sure, 
deep in my heart, that you will get through 
it. Farewell," said Reeshel. 

Reeshel's heart was soft and gentle toward 
Sentwoa, and Sennvoa felt at peace. When 
he got to the tower, he felt the Shanobie wolf 
inside him again. He said to himself, "Why? 
Why me? Why did this have to happen to 
a man like me? I wish I could stop it, but I 
don't know how." 

He went into the room and saw the man 
behind him carrying the food he requested. 

but when the men entered, Sentwoa felt the 
Shanobie wolf about to come out. Then he 
said, "Men, thank you for this, but you need 
to get out right... ahh...Ahh...AAAAH- 

But before they could leave, Sentwoa 
transformed again into the Shanobie wolf 
His fingernails became like sharp claws, 
and then in a split second, Sentwoa clawed 
through all of the men that were around 
him. He cut through all four of them like 
a knife through butter. The blood spilled 
over the room; body parts fell to the floor. 
Suddenly, Sentwoa changed back. He saw 
the mess when his eyes opened. His worst 
nightmare of killing had begun. 

He then ran downstairs through the 
kingdom and the palace gate. Caro saw him 
through his window and said, "So, Sentwoa, 
your nightmare has begun. Run as far as you 
can, and I swear to you, I will cure you."*** 

Kittenjrom Beach 

Miranda 'rae Carter ^